tv [untitled] November 26, 2011 10:00pm-10:30pm PST
process. let's put an end to the bullying that the president engages in. thank you. president o'brien: thank you. any further public comment? seeing none, next item. clerk: item number six, discussion and possible action to make recommendations to the board of supervisors on file number 101055, an ordinance amending the san francisco city code. from supervisor mirkarimi. supervisor mirkarimi: good
evening, honorable commissioners. thank you for your time. i have also been joined by my aide, robert selna, and another. it turned out that san francisco was the first city not only in the united states but in the hemisphere to ban placer bags. this was a piece of law that i offered. it passed overwhelmingly at the board of supervisors. it was signed into law by mayor newsom. from that position, a number of cities throughout the state of california and around the country have followed our lead. the motivation by many cities are ranges from just saving money, in trying to spare the additional impact to their landfills, to something more noble, like contributing to the larger cause of environmental degradation and the global
climate crisis, where local governments feel some of the boy from the federal government in the ability to execute a proper or meaningful response. this an area of the normal, common plastic bag blowing around everywhere. "the wall street journal" says that there are 102 billion plastic bags consumed each year, and according to "the wall street journal," that is a very low estimate, and less than 1% of the bags are recycled or recyclable. it is a myth that they are recycled. when we set out in the legislation in 2007, we did not realize the positive domino effect that it would have in the state of california. cities like san as a, los angeles, and another inc. region -- cities like san mateo.
many versions of their law has actually surpassed that of san francisco, the first year ban, -- the first year -- tier ban, and those retailers that are hybrid cars restores and pharmacies. we have seen upper eds to 20% reduction in to the san francisco landfill. as evidence of our plastic bag man, just in that sphere. we believe by extending this city-wide to all retailers, we will certainly accelerate what the objective is, and this is to wean people off of the reliance on plastic bags, and i should remind you, what plastic bags are necessary with the objective here -- why plastic bags are
necessary with the objective here. the decomposition of the bag takes a long time and is harmful to the environment. one can argue that a single plastic bag may not be harmful, but when you think of the tens of millions that cities like san francisco go through in city's large and small that contribute to the 102 billion consumption of bags per year that go into landfills, and they are not recyclable, then i think we all have something larger to do. for our ability to try to ban that at that tier puts us in pace with cities like santa fe and los angeles and the other incorporated areas this population amounts to about 1 million people. this puts us on pace with washington, d.c., who has now signed a fee, and that he has
resulted in an 80% reduction of plastic bags used in metropolitan washington, d.c. a lot of this was lifted from ireland. ireland happened to be one of the first nations on this planet that decided to assign a bag of the, and part of my inspiration came from ireland, -- decided to assign a bag feet -- fee. the reason we never lead with the fee is because of the california grocery industry and the u.s. petrol council. the huge lobbyists came in and went to sacramento and found a legislator to sneak in a writer bill, which prevented -- to sneak in a rider bill, which
prevented us in our ability to assign a fee. the protocol of proposition 26 which passed the year before last on fees is that we would assign the fee with this law, but this time, the businesses get the feet, instead of going to government itself, -- the businesses get the fee. businesses would be able to harvest, to reap that the -- fee. we are not looking to generate profits from any angle of this legislation, but it is to disincentive buys the reliance on the plastic bag and, of course, on the paper bag. even though a lot of our people is -- our paper is post recyclable, there is still a reliance on paper, and we want
people to reuse their bags, so both from international as well as i think from domestic examples, once we are out of the start at this, now other cities have really exhibited how well it works. red and blue cities or states are the ones showing this, so it goes without politics but more to the bottom-line of try to save the taxpayers' money, trying to spare the city i think the added challenge of walking the talk when it comes to their green pretensions, wanting to green their cities, doing something larger than what we would like to see done but frustrated because it is not happening on a state or federal level. we have some exemptions that are part of a lot. for example, specialty bags,
like a dry cleaning bags, for example. produce bags in grocery stores. even though the examiner is certainly well distributed throughout the city, in their newspaper in a plastic bag, that is not aimed for in this legislation either, so maybe they and others will want to convert that back to something more, so that should also take care of this dog question from your earlier item, if anyone needs a plastic bag for those dog walkers. so we thought this all through, if you can imagine, from every angle. so that is a synopsis, i think, of our legislation, as much as possible. i am open for questions, and i would like to bring up my aide, but please feel free.
they are collecting the fee, there are such small margins. there are smaller businesses, if you can keep those at 10 cents. regarding everything else, when the original legislation came through, i thought, oh, my god, what am i going to do? i use bags when i go grocery shopping. i use my canvas bag. my company gives them out as a promotion, and i see them used all over town, so that would be my on the recommendation. i am good with this. supervisor mirkarimi: it is well noted, and we will talk to find out what that will look like. a very obvious distinction is that four or five years ago, when we did the legislation, we were well opposed by the chamber
of commerce, and by the california grocers association. there are now supporters of this legislation. that is interesting how things have allowed to just mature over time and to see, early on, we were accused of being part of a nanny state. really, i think the jury is in. sometimes with added regulation and done in such a way to address the needs of both -- both business and the ultimate goal of helping, you know, in this case, reduce, reuse, recycle, it can work. it can actually work. anti-business taking the lead, really saying that we are fine with this, it is a nice turn of the corner. president o'brien: thank you, commissioner dooley. commissioner dooley: also, i
think it's great legislation. the time has come and we need to do this. it's not that big a deal. but i have just a few things i wanted to ask about, which is i know as being a very small business owner, a lot of businesses don't have really fancy cash registers or don't even have cash registers. so i'm wondering if there's some way to tweak some alternative of reporting for those folks, you know, to show that they charge for the bag, or however the recording is. i'm just a little concerned, because not everyone's cash registers have that kind of ability. i mean, i know my cash register was a box. so just something to think about in terms of offering some way for really tiny businesses. >> ok. commissioner dooley: and then the other thing is, what about garment bags? you go buy a suit at macy's or
whatever. >> i believe they're not covered. commissioner dooley: they're not covered, ok. president o'brien: meaning they would be allowed. >> a specialty. >> a lot of darget bags would meet the definition of re-usable. president o'brien: chick introduction of your name and speak into the mic. >> jake massey with the department of the environments. so we looked into garment bags and many of them are thicker than what needs to be to qualify as a re-usable bag. so it seeps like there's a lot of options out there for garment bags to be re-usable bags. and we kind of clarify that in the ordinance, that it didn't have to have handles per se, that typical bags have, since your handle becomes a handle. so we see this as encouraging. the garment bags that actually can be reused, versus this
thin, flimsy plastic that is not re-usable and ends up creating problems with litter and the disposable stream. commissioner dooley: my last question is just another minor thing, which is, a lot of businesses buy a whole hot of bags in advance. so is there some kind of way they can get a waiver temporarily? i mean, is there enough type for them to go through their bag inventory? good that's a good point. that's one of the reasons why in the phasing from 2012 to 2014, that's one of the reasons. but for those stores that have such a large inventory, there should be a phasing out. >> what we've seen is most stores would not have more than six months inventory. we're talking about more than six months. july 1 would be when it would
go into effect. but i can tell you that i helped implement the styrofoam ban as part of our food service ordinance over the last four years, and we had a similar time frame where we said you can't serve in styrofoam. it took us a long time to get to all the restaurants to help make sure they understood the ordinance. if they said, look, we've got this inventory in our back and we'd look at it and say, how much time will it take to go through that. well, like another month or so. ok, we'll come back in a month. so we really -- we want to be as flexible and as reasonable as we can in helping businesses make the transition. and it's on a case-by-case. if somebody has more inventory, we've always been flexible. because for us, we just want to get the message out there that we want you to switch over, give you whatever assistance is needed and any potential fines are our last resort. commissioner dooley: great,
thanks. >> i have a feeling in the first phase of its implementation in july, should things go according to plan, it's a soften forcement, as it has been for a lot of other, i think, laws. but then normalize to where i think compliances will heel. president o'brien: thank you, commissioner dooley. commissioner riley. commissioner riley: yes. first of all, congratulations on your victory. have you taken into consideration the restaurants? i like to order my soup noodles and i like to have it in a caner and then a plastic bag so it won't spill when i drive home. so would they be exempt? >> no, i don't believe that they would be exempt. but i believe that there's an alternative bag that they can use in lieu of that would comply with the spirit of our law. so that is what we would hope. >> so one of the things that our ordinance does that other
jurisdictions don't do is that we allow compostable plastic. if a restaurant wants to use a plastic bag, they can. the reason we allow compostable plastic is we have the nation's leading, in many cases, world leading composting program and we see that there's value, if the bag is truly composting, certified that way and labeled that way, it can be used to help collect food scraps and go in a green bin. there are nearly 30 companies worldwide that are making compostable bags. the industry is growing very fast. there's an incredible revolution happening in the plastics industry going torts bio-based and compostable. we now have more companies coming out with sort of the t-shirt takeout bags. and we've been testing them to see if they will perform like a regular plastic bag with hot take-out food. an we've looked at three so far that do a really good job. so there's definitely that option available for restaurants. >> that's good, thank you.
>> thank you. >> for me the operable word is recoverable costs. i can see why people are onboard with it. it is our work in the world right now is to take care of our world. because our businesses can recover these costs, i will be supporting it, thank you. >> and can i just note, related to commissioner riley's comment, this has given birth to a new industry, and that is the alternative bag industry. when we introduced our law in 2006-2007, this was, at best, cottage industry. now you are talking about companies that are merging. small, mind you, in comparison to those that dominate the
plastics world and the monopoly on plastic bags. but it's also why the petrochemical industries work so hard to suppress laws like this from around the nation. many of the cities that are facing lawsuits to try to stem their ability to implement a bag ban or fee, the lead against those cities is against the plastic chemical council, because they do not want to see these other industries grow. so a lot of the showdown legally is from sort of that national vantage point. and it's time that they and we all wake up to see the social responsibility and that economic responsibility that we all have in terms of the consequences of what this bag use has amounted to, and that's what we're trying to get to the heart of. >> other commissioner's questions? >> just a comment. and i've been traveling.
it's almost all over the world. the countries i visited, they also have the same policy, charging for bags. so i go everywhere with a bag. >> in the olympics, beijing was talking about -- i don't know how thorough or effective they've been, but they were talking about it. they announced right before the olympics. and i have to tell you, regina can tell you, because she was with our office at the time. our office was completely overwhelmed for months by queries from around the world when we passed this law, and we just couldn't handle the incoming level of attention and copies of the legislation, the analysis. and then to kind of escort people along the whole legislative procedure. it was gratifying and tense, to say the least. it's nice to see in such short period of time something like this really take hold. president o'brien: is there any
of the petrochemical industries -- have you seen any evidence of any of them that were, you know, producing the plass tech bags, the bad bags, if you will, use their resources to start investing in research in their own industry to make disposable bags? >> i wouldn't be surprised, but i don't know which company. president o'brien: i was wondering if there's any evidence of that. >> if you look at the 30 companies that are making compostable bags, it does include some big ones, like heritage bag. and what we're seeing is there's two trends. there's a trend to go towards bio-based, which is not necessarily compostable, which makes it complicated. but coke has come out with a plant bottle. you may have heard of that. that's now 30% plant-based. but as a bottle, it just is as non-degradeable as a regular p.e.t. bottle, which means you can recycle it. so it has the advantage of being bio-based, but it's not
compostable. we only want compostable foodwear or bags that can help with collection. we're seeing a lot of movement that way. polyethylene being made out of sugar cain as well. you have two different directions, bio-based and compostable and that's why we're rigorous in meeting that standard. we actually got california law passed that says you can't use the word degradeable or biodegradable because there's not a standard and there's a lot of green hersh washing out there. people are saying buy my bag because it's degradeable and our message is only buy it if it's compostable, if you want a compostable bag. president o'brien: do we have any impact studies of the effect of the legislation? will it have any kind of unfortunate impacts right away
economically speaking or jobs-wise, anything like that? >> well, you know, you've got compostable -- you've got regular plastic bags coming from around the world and you've got alternative bags. we do have -- we've seen a growth in industry in california with world-class industries that's making thick, re-usable bags out of recycled plastic. companies like chico bags, that make the nileon-like, woven polyester bags that fold into a pocket. we saw that with the alternatives in stire foal. and since our ban over four years ago styrofoam, now there's more jobs in california making alternatives to styrofoam than making styrofoam and we think we'll see that same trend. in terms of locally here, we have companies that are making bags that will be good for them. we see businesses that charge for bags having an extra revenue stream. we see an economic benefit there. president o'brien: thank you.
well, i think that the attempt of the legislation is a trend that's a train that's not going to be stopped. we all want to see our children inherit a better world than what we've created partly, and partly what we've inherited ourselves. there's no reversing that progress. so i personally am satisfied that this supervisor has put a lot of effort into checking out the impact and mitigating against any of the negative consequences. i like the idea that it's -- other industries have grown up around that are making the alternatives. so the economic impact is not too minimized. i would always be concerned about, you know, the unintended consequences, expression that keeps coming up from legislation and always try to caution against that, not being against the legislation, but to make sure that we do it in an
orderly fashion, because it can take away from the benefit of it. but i agree wholeheartedly behind it, behind the spirit of it and i'm satisfied that it's well thought out and i will be supporting a recommendation to move forward with this legislation. and i think we'd have to give our hats off to commissioner or supervisor mirkarimi on his victory in the sheriff's race president congratulations to you. with that, i would move that we make a recommendation. if anybody has any particular concerns they want interest plemented into the language of it -- implemented into the language of it. i beg your parred. i always leave the public comment out. are there any members of the public who would like to make a comment on this matter? seeing none, public comment is closed. commissioner clyde? commissioner clyde: i'd like to move that we support this with recommendation, just support it, you know. >> i would absolutely support this with just my one
recommendation, just to check in with the smaller businesses, like the mom and pop sandwich shops and that, to keep it to a dime instead of upping it to 25 cents. but just the smaller ones, and the small would be like a two or three-person shop. i just keep on thinking about those little burrito shops in the mission and sandwich shops in the neighborhoods. commissioner clyde: you're thinking of the smaller purchases? >> the smaller purchases. commissioner clyde: you buy a sandwich, for $2 you don't want to pay 25 cents. >> exactly. president o'brien: do you think that somewhere along the line that they should have to come into compliance as well? because i've gone to countries around the world where there's a huge amount of food country summings done in that fashion and not by people who go to restaurants, and they generate a huge amount of the paper waist that results from that.
-- paper waste that results from that. i think you're absolutely right, commissioner adams. maybe they need extra help, but i think somewhere along the line they would probably have to come into compliance. i think we would be leaving a big leak there if we left that impact forever. i think we should just do something about it eventually. maybe take it longer. >> i would just want to weigh in and say that it does not implement till 25 cents until 2014. so that's two years. and i think that's two years of information. i think that's two years of road testing it. and it can get revisited after that time. i mean, i'm just not sure how much, with the first implementation and then ongoing education, how much of a problem it would be for the small shops. >> i'm just looking at costs, that's all. >> i would just say that because it's recoverable for them, that quarter is, i think
-- i mean, i would say nominal. i'm very careful, though, about what is nominal to a person or an industry. president o'brien: so i take it you would agree, then, that it should probably apply across the board. commissioner clyde: yes. i think that the current legislation, as drafted, would be ok. and if there's a problem, it could be addressed in the future. i would send it forward this way personally. president o'brien: go ahead. >> commissioner adams is saying that for the smaller businesses -- i mean, for like -- let's say our take-out food, 25 cents is poportionnally slightly different than if you're going to a grocery store with a bag that's this size. so i think maybe the recommendation is requesting that the supervisor -- or actually, the department of
environment within this period of time really takes -- it could be -- it's up to you guys -- but take into consideration that sort of scale of proportion and cost, and in that two years -- if consumer behavior doesn't change around those industries, then maybe take a look at it. that could be one way that you can direct -- president o'brien: i can live with that. >> i think you're saying it's 25% if you buy a sandwich. you can't put it in a re-usable bag. you have to put it in a bag that you take away. 25 cents could be like 17% or 10% of your purchase. >> right. >> grocery bag, you know. >> could i suggest that maybe we would make the recommendation >> i'll pass the legislation as is and just make